On being told what to do
A friend and I nestle in the center
of a traffic circle at night
on a bench perched in front of a water
fountain shifting red white and blue
under its sculptured skirt.
Sirens glare toward us.
I remember my son telling me, “Mommy,
Mrs. Arias at school said we should say
‘God have mercy’
whenever we hear an ambulance.”
He is asleep at home now.
My mouth obeys.
A young tattooed couple prefer a green
white and red blanket to a bench, unconcerned
about the cockroach we at first thought was a cricket.
Somehow I don't mind my friend’s advice,
“make up with your sisters.”
Such intimate heft would collapse others.
Now: for my mouth to obey.
Would he notice
the tiny drop of menstrual blood
on his white bath mat,
a red jewel despite the dead
microscopic tissue contained within it.
I’d just gotten out of the shower.
It’s starting to develop an
imperfect border, a sort of
corona around it,
like the sun.
Shannon Phillips is a freelance editor and an aspiring translator. Her most recent chapbook, Body Parts, was published by dancing girl press in 2017.